Thursday, September 20, 2007

Matthew 3:4 John the Baptist-An Uncommon Prophet Pt II

Most people have preconceived notions about what a pastor or preacher should look like. I think they expect them to be wearing a suit or at least dress clothes all the time in the same manner as an accountant, maybe. I remember once when I was pastoring a church I ran into a member of my congregation at the eye doctor. Now, I had spent the morning cutting the grass and had not showered before my appointment. Yes, I know that is kind of gross. Well, I ran into Miss Nancy. She was sitting in the waiting room next to someone she knew. She introduced me as her pastor. Now, I was wearing a pair of sandals, a grass stained tee shirt, and a pair of cut off jeans. That friend of Miss Nancy’s looked up and down and I could tell she was thinking to herself “That ain’t no preacher.” John the Baptist might have had to deal with the same sort of thing. He certainly didn’t look like any of the religious leaders. As we look in this verse, we see some things that made him uncommon in his appearance.

First of all, Matthew records that John was “clothed in camel’s hair”. This was a rough, uncomfortable, cheap kind of clothing. Since John lived in the wilderness and apparently lived off of the land, it makes sense that his clothing would not be expensive. However, I believe, in addition to revealing his humble state, the clothing suggested the same thing that wearing sackcloth did. When people would wear sackcloth and ashes, they signified that they were repenting. In a sense, they would willingly forgo comfort in order to demonstrate their repentance. Repentance from sin is never comfortable. When we recognize the offense of our sin to a holy and righteous God, we should be uncomfortable. This might not be the kind of outfit that a preacher who was preaching in a mega-church today might wear. In fact, someone wearing unkempt clothes like John might not be treated very friendly in a church, much less be allowed to preach in it. Obviously, he did not “dress to impress”.

Not only did he wear rough, hairy garments, but Matthew records that he also had a “leather belt”. Elijah was described as being a hairy man wearing a leather belt and John could have consciously taken him as a role model. However, the belt also suggests someone who is ready to get up and go. This man was called by God to deliver a message of repentance and he went throughout this wilderness to do just that. Because of the life God had called him to live, he needed to be unencumbered. He lived in the wild and so needed to be able to go where and when he needed to go. This man who came in the spirit and power of Elijah was ready and able to go where God sent him. Can you and I say the same thing?

Finally, we observe what the man ate. “Locusts and wild honey” were on his menu on a daily basis. Practically, it made sense. The locust was readily available in this wilderness. The wild honey Matthew mentions could have been found in rock crevices. Now, what does a diet like this tell us about this man. First of all, he depended on the providence of God. He ate the food he found. I would also see him as focused. His concern was not for his comfort or his pleasure. He also wasn’t worried about his health, I would wager. I mean, he ate “honey from the rock”. Somebody call Andy Griffith. I think we’ve found something that won’t taste good on a Rits. Food didn’t concern him. Clothing didn’t concern him. Shelter during the heat, cold, and rain didn’t concern him. The dangers of the wilderness didn’t concern him. God called. He obeyed to the point that he sacrificed every comfort that you and I take for granted. Let us pray for God to give us that kind of obedient, single minded spirit that focuses on Him and His glory.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

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